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History of Sino-British Relations:
New China, 1949-1966

Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949, Britain announced its recognition of the new government on 6 January 1950. The Chinese allowed British diplomats to move from Nanjing, the Nationalist capital, to Beijing, now once again the capital, but refused to accept that diplomatic relations had been established. Neither did they send a mission to London. In June 1950, the Korean War and Britain's support of United Nations' intervention, added to existing Chinese suspicions of Britain and made a move to full relations more difficult. British firms in China came under steady pressure to close down, while the British community, once so large, was reduced to a handful. All British consulates closed, except Shanghai.

The personal chemistry between the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, and China's Premier and Foreign Minister, Zhou Enlai, at the 1954 Geneva Conference on Korea and Indo-China provided a partial solution to the question of recognition. Although full relations had to wait, they now agreed to exchange missions at the charge d'affaires level. A Chinese charge d'affaires' office opened in London in 1955. Trade expanded once more. Much of it was in the hands of a small association, the 48 Group, whose members had maintained links with China during the Korean War. Other firms now joined them. A Labour Party delegation visited China in 1954, and in 1964, Douglas Jay, the President of the Board of Trade, became the first British minister to visit China. By then two-way trade was over ��36 million. There were cultural exchanges too and some academic links were re-established.

- History of Sino-British relations, 1966-1972



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